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ISMP Medication Safety Alert

Patch problems

A patient complained to her physician that the fentanyl patch he had prescribed for her pain was not working. After talking with her, he found out that she was putting the patch on her upper chest and holding it in place with tape. Problem solved! Patches are just like Band-aid® bandages. They have a backing that you have to peel off, and then you put on the patch. The patient in this case was not peeling off the backing, and as a result, the drug inside the patch was not being released into her body.

And for those of you who do use patches, when you remove them, be sure to cut them in half with scissors, wrap them in toilet paper, and flush them down the toilet. This prevents small children and pets from getting into them and getting poisoned

Family members or other caregivers removing patches should avoid contact with the medication gels. If the gel accidentally contacts the skin, the area should be washed with large amounts of water. Do not use soap, alcohol or other solvents to remove the gel because they may increase the drug's ability to go through the skin. .

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